Monday, January 25, 2010

Samurai Newbie

Recently I've become interested in samurai history and related collecting, and have made three discoveries I'd like to share with you.

1. Buying replica samurai armor makes collecting kimono look cheap.

2. Buying a vintage sword makes buying armor look cheap.

3. Both are awesome and have become (very long-term!) goals for my collecting.

I don't know nearly enough at this point about either swords or armor to pick out junk from gold, but from looking around and reading it appears quality armor replicas start at about $2,000 and can be as much as ten times that for top-of-the-line work.

Quality vintage or antique blades seem to start around $3,000 and can go up to tens of thousands of dollars. I can say with certainty, however, that it seems to break down that vintage blades under $1000 are highly suspect, and anything under $300 is almost certainly a super-cheap replica. This is good to know as I was really wondering what was up with all of the $100 Buy-It-Now listings on Ebay. They're apparently about the same as the $0.89 "kimono" you see a ton of.

Anyway, more samurai updates as new knowledge develops! In the meanwhile, if you have any, feel free to add your own tips and tricks for spotting armor and sword fakes.

One I've learned that I didn't know before is that real Japanese swords have a distinctive wood-grain pattern along the blade that results from the folding of the metal during the forging process. However, I also learned that a lot of low-quality fakes also have a fake wood-grain pattern in imitation of the originals. So the presence of "wood-grain" along the blade doesn't guarantee authenticity.

Image © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

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